I have a new perspective at work today. That’s because I moved to my third different cube since starting here about 18 months ago. That’s because we’ve had to shuffle while our company renovates its offices. I’m not really too particular about my workspace as long as it’s fairly clean, has a drawer for my coffee cup, headphones, a couple of pens and some paper. Oh, another requirement is a decent chair. The chair I had at my last two cubes had stains I can only guess came from a previous owner’s losing bout with incontinence. On the upside, the stains did have a remarkable resemblance to the shape of Latvia, which at least provided a conversation starter with those touring the office. “Hi! that’s an interesting stain on your chair!” “For sure! It’s the shape of Latvia!” “Uh, nice. Where do you keep your medical supplies?”
It’s also important to me to have what they call good ergonomics. That means your knees don’t hit the counter when you pull your chair up to the work surface. In the L-shaped space, one generally places their computer monitor and keyboard at the intersections of the two legs. Unfortunately, the counter is too low and the arms on my chair are too high, so my fingers can barely scrape the edge of my keyboard, making my job as a writer somewhat more challenging, but not impossible. I’ve figured out how to blow enough air through a straw to depress the keys. It’s takes a little while longer than touch typing but if I add a little sound, I can pretty much hum any song I like. My co-workers are not amused but I did bring a full box of straws and have invited them to form a blow-typers band. Not have yet accepted and I fear I’m being blown off.
Before I retired I was senior manager at a car company and had an office enclosed in glass. It was more room than I needed and way too isolated from my teammates but our HR department said it would “send a bad message” if I worked from a more modest, and sensible space. I actually think it sends a great message when you take up only as much space as you actually need. In fact, I can fit all of my personal items in a small Trader Joes shopping bag and be out the door in 12 seconds when it’s time for me to move on.
One thing I noticed by moving three times is the difference in background sound. At my first spot our team was fairly isolated and I mainly heard conversations that pertained to our piece of the puzzle. Then we moved into the main newsroom and I liked being there because there was a nice view of Ford Field and Comerica Park, but that was offset by the woman across the divider from me who sneezed no fewer than 75 times every hour. When I was new in that space I attempted a “Bless you” and a “gesundheit” but after the first dozen sneezes I no longer wished this person good health, praying instead for death by Kleenex.
My new, and I’m told, permanent cube, is in what can only be called a mixed neighborhood. I’ve been placed between two people who aren’t on my team and they’ve yet to acknowledge me. I suppose I could take the initiative but as someone who mainly works from home, only coming in to the office every few weeks, it seems like an unnecessary burden. They’ll forget my name, I’ll forget theirs and I don’t want to become so familiar that one of them hits me up to borrow a pen I’ll never see again, or asks about my weekend because then I’d have to ask about their weekend and the small talk quotient would simply be far beyond my level of toleration. I do enjoy that sort of chatting with my teammates because I already know their names so half the work is already done.
Meanwhile, my knees are getting sore bumping into the counter so I’m moving things around a bit. I have five drawers and only three possessions so it may be entertaining to switch their locations from time to time then play a game with myself to see if I remember where I put everything, since I have no idea when I’m scheduled to return to the office. Plus, it will take me only 12 seconds to pack up….when it’s time to move…again.